Apple wants to improve OLED technology for potential use in future iPhones

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple has shown interest in improving the technology behind organic light emitting diodes, or OLED displays, to provide even better battery life for devices like the iPhone and iPad.



Apple's pursuit of better OLED technology was revealed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Power Efficient Organic Light Emitting Diode Display," it describes ways in which an OLED screen could offer improved battery life, particularly when displaying the color white.



The filing notes that OLED screens can operate at lower voltages than traditional displays, like the LCD screens currently found on the iPhone and iPad. This is possible because OLED technology is light emissive rather than light transmissive.



But while OLED can offer some advantages over LCD -- including darker blacks, higher contrast ratios, and improved power efficiency -- those perks are diminished when an OLED display is used to generate large amounts of white display area.



In order to display a screen that is largely the color white, an OLED panel has to utilize a range of color channels for every pixel on the display. Doing this can be power intensive and make the device inefficient.



"The relative power inefficiency in display white spaces using an OLED display may be particularly problematic in certain contexts," the filing notes. "For example, certain applications, such as word processing, spreadsheet design and use, database design and use, e-mail, and other business or productivity applications, typically utilize dark or black alphanumeric characters on a white background, such as to simulate writing or printing on a sheet of paper.



"As a result, these applications may cause the display of large expanses of white background with relatively little area devoted to the non-white alphanumeric characters. Such applications, therefore, may make the use of OLED displays unsuitable or undesirably power intensive for battery powered and/or portable electronic devices, such as handheld devices."







Apple's proposed solution to this problem would include a transparent OLED display panel positioned in front of a solid white background layer, like a white transflective sheet. The display would also feature an opacity switchable layer located between the OLED panel and the background layer.



"The switchable layer may be switched, in whole or in part, from an opaque or semi-opaque state to a transparent or semi-transparent state," the application reads. "For example, in one embodiment, the switchable layer may be opaque, e.g. black, in the absence of a current. However, upon application of a current all or part of the switchable layer may be come transparent so that the underlying background layer is visible."



The combination of a solid white background and an opaque layer that could be made transparent would allow a transparent OLED panel to avoid displaying the color white. By instead utilizing the white background, this could produce the color when appropriate, such as when reading black text on a white background, without consuming battery life to turn the individual OLED pixels white.







The white background could even be used for smaller elements on a screen, and applied even in situations where the entire background isn't white. In one illustration, Apple shows a list of calendar events on an iPhone, with one tiny element -- the selected "List" view -- displayed against a white background.



Apple's proposed invention, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in April of 2010. It is credited to Daniel William Jarvis, Albert John Golko, and Felix Jose Alvarez Rivera.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Sounds like an interesting solution.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    morkymorky Posts: 172member
    I wonder how they can ever ramp up to the yields they need on these things. Hard enough to do with current OLED technology.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Morky View Post


    I wonder how they can ever ramp up to the yields they need on these things. Hard enough to do with current OLED technology.



    And pricey. I wouldn't think any feasible OLED (not to be confused with the various types of AMOLED) that is costly, power, and yield efficient is a long way off. At least 5 years.



    They would also have to change the UI to include a lot of black to maximize power efficiency.
  • Reply 4 of 22
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    And pricey. I wouldn't think any feasible OLED (not to be confused with the various types of AMOLED) that is costly, power, and yield efficient is a long way off. At least 5 years.



    And yet people believe that an Apple HDTV would be OLED.
  • Reply 5 of 22
    My only concern with this patent is HOW are they going to make such a background. I mean, they can't just stick a sheet of white plastic behind the screen. You have to consider the brightness of the screen for it to work properly. They can't use an LED backlit OLED either or they will simply negate the consumption improvement.



    On a different view though. This could revolutionize the concept of e-ink. This OLED concept could display black and white text while using nearly no power (opaque OLED with white background) while still keeping the "paper" feel of e-ink since no backlit would be used.



    Good move Apple. Killing LCD, E-ink and traditional SuperAMOLED in one shot
  • Reply 6 of 22
    This patent is quite late and too funny taking in consideration that Samsung already provides ground breaking battery life with their new Super AMOLED+ displays.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    ...any feasible OLED (not to be confused with the various types of AMOLED)



    AMOLED is an active-matrix OLED. All phones, tablets and TVs using OLED in the future will use AMOLED displays.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    When I read that it sticks a white background behind the screen, it seemed obvious that you should do that. How to do that, is another question, though, as other posters have pointed out. Presumably, the LEDs would be positioned to shine behind the white background, so that isn't too much of a problem though. The only thing I'm wondering is how this thing is going to be manufactured with a cost comparable to LCDs.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    majjomajjo Posts: 574member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    And pricey. I wouldn't think any feasible OLED (not to be confused with the various types of AMOLED) that is costly, power, and yield efficient is a long way off. At least 5 years.



    They would also have to change the UI to include a lot of black to maximize power efficiency.



    it's already happening. Google changed android 2.3 to having white text on a black background specifically for Samsung's OLED displays.



    and Samsung is really pushing OLED tech. Pretty much all of their smartphones use OLED displays, and IIRC they're releasing a 7" tablet with an OLED display soon. All of the nexus phones have used OLED displays as well so google intends to go in that direction as well.
  • Reply 10 of 22
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by majjo View Post


    it's already happening. Google changed android 2.3 to having white text on a black background specifically for Samsung's OLED displays.



    and Samsung is really pushing OLED tech. Pretty much all of their smartphones use OLED displays, and IIRC they're releasing a 7" tablet with an OLED display soon. All of the nexus phones have used OLED displays as well so google intends to go in that direction as well.



    That happened with the first AMOLED displays, including the admittedly slick Zune UI. The deep blacks do make for an elegant look, which is too bad that Google is so poor at taking advantage of their UI environment.
  • Reply 11 of 22
    So how does this work if the image is, say, light blue instead of white?



    What about low ambient light situations?



    Sounds kludgy.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Android user: "OMG! Apple now says they have invented the color white!"























    Yes, this is my first post here. For some reason I thought I registered years ago lol
  • Reply 13 of 22
    I've been working with OLED displays in embedded HW for the past year or so. The state of the technology right now is not good enough for an iPhone, as far as picture quality is concerned -- with or without a method to produce a better white. It won't take 5 years, though. Maybe 3.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    And pricey. I wouldn't think any feasible OLED (not to be confused with the various types of AMOLED) that is costly, power, and yield efficient is a long way off. At least 5 years.



    They would also have to change the UI to include a lot of black to maximize power efficiency.



    Why would they need to change the UI? If this works, having a white background would be just as power efficient.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    Why would they need to change the UI? If this works, having a white background would be just as power efficient.



    My comment was focusing on the current state of OLED. I am not convinced about the white being as power efficient as black for a comparable quality level.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Markintosh View Post


    Android user: "OMG! Apple now says they have invented the color white!"



    Yes, this is my first post here. For some reason I thought I registered years ago lol



    OK, thanks for playing, you can crawl back in your hole now.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,027member
    Some screens in modern smartphones already have a solution, instead of displaying every colour to represent white, they have a fourth white subpixel (in addition to RGB) so it uses a fourth the power to display pure white.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    I'd suggest that many of those who actually make the things have well tested the idea already.



    I'm now cursing the fact that 100's of my great ideas have not been patented.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aBeliefSystem View Post


    I'd suggest that many of those who actually make the things have well tested the idea already.



    I'm now cursing the fact that 100's of my great ideas have not been patented.



    It costs $110 to send a provisional application.
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Youarewrong View Post


    AMOLED is an active-matrix OLED. All phones, tablets and TVs using OLED in the future will use AMOLED displays.



    That's right. Super AMOLED HD is superior to OLED. Apple would have to go to Samsung again to keep up with Jones. Moto and Nokia already buying AMOLED displays from Samsung for some of their high end phones.
Sign In or Register to comment.